Developing a Missional Core Team – Ongoing Training for Trainers with Craig Ott

Developing a Missional Core Team – Ongoing Training for Trainers with Craig Ott

Craig Ott is the Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). He received a BA from California State University and an MDiv and PhD from TEDS.

Craig Ott occupies the ReachGlobal Chair of Mission, which was established to link the EFCA mission agency and seminary. He formerly served 21 years in Germany with ReachGlobal (formerly the EFCA International Mission). He has planted churches in Schaumburg, Illinois, and in Munich, Ingolstadt, Neumarkt, and Markt Indersdorf, Germany. For seven years, He served as Central Europe Church Planting Consultant for ReachGlobal. For four years, he taught at the Akademie für Weltmission in Korntal, Germany, where he continues to teach regularly as an adjunct professor. He has taught or consulted national and mission leaders in 40 different countries. He and his wife, Alice, live in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and have three grown sons. His hobbies include bicycling, film and guitar. Among his books are Missionary Methods: Research, Reflections, and Realities and Global Church Planting.

Before you listen to the podcast, take a simple self-assessment. Give yourself a score on a scale of 1-10, 10 being high.


___ Every time I train church planters, I use questions and techniques to help them be more concerned about the kind of core team they gather than the numbers of core team they gather.

___ I help planters make sure that every member of their launch team is involved in some kind of non-Christian community organization.

___ The planters I train always model personal and direct missional engagement in the harvest for their core team because they know that a missional lifestyle is more caught than taught.

___ Total

Where did you score highest? Lowest? What does this score tell you about your ability to help the planters you are training lead their core team to be missionally engaged? What steps might you take to help your planters set a missional DNA of their church plant?

Now, listen to the podcast with Craig Ott. Afterwards, answer the following questions.

Craig Ott mentioned three lessons that the church in the West can learn from church planting in Europe and in the majority world.

  1. A bold, yet humble sharing of the gospel without a combative spirit
  2. The power of church as community that resists the Western individualistic approach to spirituality.
  3. A focus on the power of prayer that fights against the Western naturalistic worldview

Which of these three lessons do the planters you are training need to apply the most? How might you design an explore, experience, evaluate and equip training to help them grow in that area?

Craig Ott gave examples of how in the Majority World, church planting is advancing because of the mobilization of “ordinary Christians” as workers in the harvest. Krishna, a former Hindu from Nepal, felt that he didn’t have enough resources to start churches. He was trained by Craig Ott in a simple, low tech way. When he went back two years later, Krishna had started nine churches. Our training is often complicated because our goal is to start complicated churches. How might you make your training more simple and more accessible to more ordinary Christians?

Craig Ott said, “We must mobilize people more and more at the grass roots level. Ephesians 4 isn’t accomplished when we preach a good sermon on Sundays. We must do much better empowering leaders and mentoring them by going with them into the harvest. We need to celebrate the ordinary everyday Christian. It’s not the pastoral staff that need to be applauded at the anniversary of the church. We need to hold up the ordinary Christian who is engaged in the harvest as the role model. As the attractional model loses more traction, the grass roots approach will be more necessary.” How are you training your planters to empower and mentor ordinary, everyday Christians to become the next generation of planters?

When building a launch team, Craig Ott said, “Church planters and their trainers ought to keep in mind the ‘Gideon Principle’ – that less is more.” He said, “We really don’t need large numbers of people to plant a church or a campus as much as we need the right kind of people. Do these people have a missional DNA, a passion for the lost, and a commitment to be ‘all in’? They will set the DNA of the new plant or campus. Keep in mind that the DNA will be hard to change later. If the core team has a ‘serve me’ mindset, then that will set the DNA of the new church. If you want to start a church focused on evangelism, discipleship and missional living, then you have to have a launch team totally committed to that way of being the church and engaging the community.” When have you seen a church planted with a launch team that had a “serve me” mindset? What was the result? How might you have trained that planter or core team differently?

Dr. Ott says that being directly engaged in the community will help the core launch team and the planter build relationships with people far from God, of course. It will also help them understand how non-Christians think—what their aspirations and questions are. What are some other benefits of a core team and a planter being directly engaged in the harvest?

Craig Ott tied this “direct engagement” approach to the ministry of Jesus in Matthew 9. It’s when Jesus engaged the people that His heart was broken. He said, “It’s direct engagement with the lost that breaks the heart for the harvest and that makes us effective in the harvest.” How can you as a trainer help your planters be more directly engaged in the harvest?

After listening to this podcast, what is God saying to you about how you might create a great culture of multiplication in your own church? What is God saying to you about how you can help planters become more kingdom-minded multipliers? What are your next steps? When will you start? Who will help you?

You can reach Craig Ott at [email protected]. You can purchase at Kindle version of Missionary Methods. You can also get a copy of Global Church Planting.

Published July 31, 2019